farewell, ebay of christmases past

I know I have spent lots of time complaining about ebay lately, but let me put it into perspective for the curious and for those who are thinking of selling on ebay. I’ll put the math under a cut since most folks won’t care about it – buyers can skip the cut to read about how this will affect them as of December.

It actually wasn’t the “no metaphysical stuff” that put me out of business on ebay. It was other changes after all. Due to a bevy of ebay’s recent changes designed to run off small sellers, those who do custom-made and custom-finished stuff, and those who as a result cannot join their new “ship within 24 hours and offer 2-week no fault returns” parade, my sales have gone down over 300% over the last three months. (Your adherence to and performance within certain parameters determines your placing in search results and the fees you pay. I pay the highest possible fees and turn up at the very bottom of search results.) I barely turn up in search results if I turn up at all, unless you are searching specifically for my stuff, but since all my search terms and item names have changed to remove references to “hoodoo” and “conjure,” nobody is looking anyway. For nearly eight years I was a top-rated seller and a power seller; but over the last three months my sales have sunk to the point where it made no sense to keep the upgraded store. I went back to the basic subscription, which raises my listing fees to twenty cents per item. So an $8 bottle of oil earns ebay $1.23 if it only has to list once before it sells (when you carry regular inventory, it’s constantly relisting automatically – so listing fees alone on a 300+ item inventory have now become unsupportable). Paypal gets another sixty-two cents. Then ebay gets another $16 a month for the store subscription fee, and auctiva gets $10. This is all before the cost of essential oils, wax, shipping materials, papers, tape, bottles, packaging, and all the other supplies of being in business. And, you know, time.

Bottom line for the last thirty days:
ebay sales: $189.00.  Yes, you read that right.
Fees owed to ebay as of the invoice I just received for Oct 15-Nov 15: $106.92.
Net earnings from ebay for the last thirty days: $82.08. Subtract auctiva fees and paypal fees, net earnings for the last thirty days on ebay = $32. Obviously I spent way more than $32 worth of materials to make, package, and ship the last month’s ebay sales.

Ebay: fuck you very much.

So I will honor the sales I have just put up, but then the nickel and dime things are coming down. It makes no sense to carry an inventory full of $6 and $8 items, none at all. I’m losing money keeping the store open like this, and most regular customers and clients go elsewhere anyway, so all I get at ebay are occasional trickles of new buyers who often don’t know, and don’t care, what my ethos as a maker of spiritual supplies is – they just want to know why their shit isn’t in their mailbox yet when they paid for it three days ago. When the sale is over, I may still keep some one of a kind things up, and maybe some kits and lots, at least through Christmas, but the days of swinging by to pick up a packet of hot foot powder are over when this sale is over. Customers can still get everything at bonanza and at my web store, karmazain.com, but I am hemorrhaging money trying to keep the ebay store afloat, and they are making it harder every day. Message received.

They are succeeding in their efforts to run off small sellers. And since they’re treating the little guys like shit, I’m not going to shop there anymore either. I will not continue to participate in this abuse of the small US sellers who *made ebay what it is* and who now can’t compete in a playing field where ebay’s policies favor huge offshore warehouses and networks shipping cheap mass-produced stuff worldwide. eBay thinks their buyers are only interested in the lowest price on stuff they can find elsewhere. Now, many are, because ebay’s trained them that way. But that’s not the eBay I started selling on in 2002, and that’s not what I shop at eBay for. So I’m done. I’m not sure what it’ll look like when all the dust has settled, but it damn sure won’t look like my paying them $106 a month for the privilege of $189 in sales (and about $1500 worth of grief from buyers who won’t read item listings and store policies and who ebay doesn’t allow sellers to protect themselves from when said buyers violate terms of service).

It was fun for a while, but it’s just depressing now (yes, it’s their company and they do what they want, but I cannot even tell you how many hours and hours and how much sweat I put into building my business on that site over the last decade, so it’s not something like I am having to close up shop there because the market left me behind or something like that – it really feels like after all those years… well, you get it by now, or else you won’t even if I keep going on about it).

Coming up soon, to try to remediate some of the negative tone of this post: some of my personal picks and recs for the holiday season – cool stuff from independent, small companies, individual craftspeople, and artists, so you can stuff all your Xmas stockings without having to participate in any WalMart Shuffles or Black Friday Tussles or other soul-sucking, crass displays of consumerism at once rampant, violent, and impersonal. Shop small, give gifts made with love and soul, and support small business and crafts this holiday season!

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